The Menin Road – Sanctuary Wood Cemetery Part Two

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If you were driving down the Menin Road, on the right in this shot, looking for something to do, somewhere to go, you really wouldn’t be able to resist these signs, now would you?  Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Hill 62, trenches, and a museum!

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As you can see, and as I mentioned last post, we had somewhat different weather conditions on this occasion.

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Actually, ‘as I mentioned last post’ can most likely be inserted at many points in this post; feel free to do so where you think necessary, because I’m going to try to steer clear most of the time.

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Cemetery entrance (above & below).

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And as you can see, once again we are far from the first visitors on this freezing day.  Which is once again nice, I think.  I mean, it’s bloody cold out today, and grey, and I bet there’s something brilliant on the telly.

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Cemetery register box (above & below),…

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…and I suppose, as the cemetery is blanketed in snow, that the cemetery plan, courtesy of the CWGC, might come in useful (again – if you’ve read the previous post).

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Stone of Remembrance (above & below).

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We shall tour the cemetery following the same route as last time, so…

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…we shall begin in Plot I, the original war-time plot,…

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…with the Cross of Sacrifice,…

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…and the unidentified men buried nearby.

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Views from the southern corner of the cemetery (above & below),…

Sanctuary Wood Panorama 2

Sanctuary Wood Panorama 1

…and looking across the fields in the direction of Ieper (Ypres), the Cloth Hall and the spire of St. Martin’s Cathedral just visible on the horizon right of centre.

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We pass Plot I Row K and some of the special memorials that line the western boundary wall…

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…and once more begin to cross the open space between Plot I (right) and Plot II in the background.

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Looking due south back towards the Cross, Plot II now directly behind us, Plot I in the background, and the rows of special memorials along the western boundary wall on the right (above & below).

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These special memorials are all to men killed in August & September 1915 whose graves have long since been lost.

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Heading towards the northern corner of the cemetery, passing Plot II Rows M & N,…

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…and Rows H & J.

Sanctuary Wood Panorama 3

View from the northern corner.

Sanctuary Wood Panorama 4

Plot II.

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And as we did last time,…

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…we shall head back to Plot I.  There are exactly fifty burials in the plot,…

Sanctuary Wood Panorama 6

… and only nineteen of those are identified.

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Plot I Row F,…

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…with, set obliquely to the row, the grave of Lieutenant Gilbert Walter Lyttleton Talbot, the only headstone in Plot I Row G.

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You will remember we visited the grave of Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot last time we were here, and I said I’d tell you about him this post.

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Gilbert Walter Lyttleton Talbot was killed in action at the age of just twenty three, leading his men at Hooge, just across the fields from here, as the British counterattacked after the first use of flame throwers by the Germans on the Western Front. His colleagues managed to retrieve his body a week later, and he was originally buried near to where he fell, before being moved here.

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Looking west, past Gilbert Talbot’s grave.  In the summer of 1915, a large house in Poperinghe, eight and a half miles due west of Ypres, was vacated by its owners and rented to the British Army.  The Reverend Philip “Tubby” Clayton, a British Army chaplain, visualised its use as a soldier’s club, and, presumably due to his heavenly powers of persuasion, on 11th December 1915, the doors of a new club for British soldiers opened, the entrance sign proclaiming, ‘“All rank abandon, ye who enter here’.  None of which explains why the house was subsequently named Talbot House in memory of Gilbert (perhaps because he was both the youngest son of the Lord Bishop Talbot of Winchester, and his brother was Padre Neville Talbot), but it was, and as a very strange footnote, at some point in the mid-1990s when, so the story goes, a ring at the doorbell of Talbot House was answered, there was no one to be seen except a black bin-bag lying on the doorstep.  Within the bag was Gilbert Talbot’s original wooden battlefield cross, and you can see it today on display at Talbot House.

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And as a second footnote, Talbot House soon became known to British soldiers in the Salient as ‘TOC H’, signallers’ code for the letters T & H.  I took an almost identical view as this on our other visit.  Just mentioning it (again).  The graves in the foreground and right background are in Plot IV, those beyond the Stone of Remembrance in Plot III.

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Looking back towards the cemetery entrance, Plot III on the left, Plot IV on the right.

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Plot V.

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The special memorials along the southern boundary, the grave of Flieghauptmann Hans Roser nearest the camera (see last post – oops!).  The CWGC website tells us that ‘At the Armistice, the cemetery contained 137 graves’, all in Plot I, as we have seen, and actually if you add the total number of special memorials along the cemetery walls (86) to the number of burials now in Plot I (50), you do get 136.  Plus Flieghauptmann Roser.  Which makes 137.

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View from the eastern corner of the cemetery,…

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…and the memorial to Second Lieutenant Keith Rae, just outside the cemetery boundary.

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Told you so.

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Heading back towards the cemetery entrance past Plot IV (above & below).

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As we leave,…

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…a quick plug for the Hill 62 Museum, just up the road,…

…and the Canadian memorial at Hill 62 itself, a few hundred yards further on at the road’s end, with its magnificent views of Ieper once again exemplifying the strategical importance of the ridges that form a semi-circle to the east of the city.

Finally, driving back down the Canadalaan towards the Menin Road, this view looks south, past Sanctuary Wood Cemetery on the far left, in the direction of Mount Sorrel, over fields that flowed with blood for four long years not so long ago.

Last post I promised you a list of the cemeteries from which men were disinterred in the late 1920s & early 1930s and reburied here at Sanctuary Wood.  The majority of the post-war burials in the cemetery are men killed either in 1914, or during the autumn of 1917, and although many of the men reburied here were found on the battlefields surrounding Ypres, some were brought from as far away as Nieuwpoort, on the coast, and some from twenty four, mainly German, small cemeteries.  I presume that when, during the 1920s, the German burials were removed to be reinterred in larger German cemeteries, the British burials were moved at the same time; all trace of most of these cemeteries is now long gone.

The list of the twenty four cemeteries is taken, although (you know me) not cut-and-pasted, from the CWGC website.  The links are all cemeteries we have visited here at the BigNote:

Beythem Communal Cemetery, Rumbeke (one U.K. casualty from October 1918); Deerlyck German Cemetery (two U.K. casualties – two others reburied in Dadizeele New British Cemetery): Donegal Farm German Cemetery, Dranoutre (one unknown British officer); Eiskellar German Cemetery, Gheluvelt (one unidentified British soldier – one other reburied in Harlebeke New British Cemetery); Flanders Field American Cemetery, Waereghem (one R.A.F. officer); Hollebeke Cemetery No. 60 or Three Houses German Cemetery (one unidentified man – others were reburied at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery); Ingelmunster German Cemetery (two R.F.C. casualties – three other British soldiers were reburied in Harlebeke New British Cemetery); Kastelhoek German Cemetery (No. 61), Hollebeke (five British soldiers who died in January & February 1917 – others were reburied in Harlebeke New British Cemetery); Klein-Zillebeke German Cemetery, Zillebeke (three unknown British soldiers); Kortekeer German Cemetery No. 12A, Langemarck (three British soldiers killed in 1914); Kruisseecke German Cemetery, Comines (two unknown British soldiers – others were reburied in Zantvoorde British Cemetery); L’Alouette German Cemetery, Neuve-Eglise (three unidentified British soldiers); Langemarck German Cemetery No.9 (five British soldiers); Langemarck North German Cemetery (one unidentified British soldier); Menen Communal Cemetery (one British casualty from 1914 – fifteen other British casualties are still there); Messines German Cemetery No.2 (seven British casualties from 1915); Messines German Cemetery No.3 (one British & one Canadian casualty); Motor Car Corner Cemetery German Extension, Ploegsteert (seven unidentified British casualties from 1918); Petit-Pont German Cemetery, Ploegsteert (two unidentified Machine Gun Corps officers); Rabschloss German Cemetery No. 64, Messines (one unidentified British casualty); Reutel German Cemetery, Becelaere (ten unknown British soldiers – others were reburied in Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Zillebeke); Slypskappelle Churchyard, Moorslede (two British soldiers & one Newfoundlander – for some reason one other British soldier remains there); Terdeghem Churchyard (four men of the Royal Garrison Artillery and one Canadian); Thourout German Cemetery No.2 (two R.A.F. men killed in September 1918).

Right, I’m off for a couple of weeks.  See y’all.

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4 Responses to The Menin Road – Sanctuary Wood Cemetery Part Two

  1. Steven Hearnden says:

    Talbot House is a must see. The chapel in the roof space is very atmospheric.

  2. Steven Hearnden says:

    Definitely! Toc H would make a great subject for an article, MF.

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